Matthew 3:5
Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan,
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(5) All the region round about Jordan.—This would include the whole length of the river-valley, and would therefore take in parts of Peræa, Samaria, Galilee, and Gaulonitis.

Matthew 3:5. Then went out to him Jerusalem — That is, the citizens of it, famed as they were for wisdom and virtue: and all Judea, &c. — The preacher being described, the evangelist proceeds to tell us what auditors he had. All sorts and ranks of persons, and the generality of the people there, flocked to hear him. The uncommon circumstances of John’s public appearance could scarcely fail to awaken the attention of the people to his person and ministry, which would be yet more excited by the time of it: for the Roman yoke began to bear hard upon them, and their uneasiness under it raised in their minds the most impatient desire of the Messiah’s arrival, by whom they expected not only deliverance, but universal monarchy. No wonder, therefore, that they flocked to the Baptist from all parts, and listened attentively while he proclaimed this long-expected Messiah’s approach, and denounced the divine vengeance upon such as rejected him. Add to this, the novelty of a prophet’s appearance in Israel, (for it seems they had had none among them since Malachi’s time;) the family of John, the circumstances of his birth, and the extraordinary character he had no doubt maintained for strict and undissembled piety; the new doctrine he taught, and his fervent manner of urging it, together with the new rite of baptism which he brought in; — all concurred, with the cause mentioned above, to draw such vast multitudes after him. And, it appears, great numbers of them were brought under very serious impressions by his faithful remonstrances, expostulations, and warnings. Here we observe a remarkable difference between John and Jesus. That the people might hear John they were under the necessity of going out of the city, and travelling to him into the desert: but Jesus, of his own accord, went to his hearers.

3:1-6 After Malachi there was no prophet until John the Baptist came. He appeared first in the wilderness of Judea. This was not an uninhabited desert, but a part of the country not thickly peopled, nor much enclosed. No place is so remote as to shut us out from the visits of Divine grace. The doctrine he preached was repentance; Repent ye. The word here used, implies a total alteration in the mind, a change in the judgment, disposition, and affections, another and a better bias of the soul. Consider your ways, change your minds: you have thought amiss; think again, and think aright. True penitents have other thoughts of God and Christ, sin and holiness, of this world and the other, than they had. The change of the mind produces a change of the way. That is gospel repentance, which flows from a sight of Christ, from a sense of his love, and from hopes of pardon and forgiveness through him. It is a great encouragement to us to repent; repent, for your sins shall be pardoned upon your repentance. Return to God in a way of duty, and he will, through Christ, return unto you in the way of mercy. It is still as necessary to repent and humble ourselves, to prepare the way of the Lord, as it then was. There is a great deal to be done, to make way for Christ into a soul, and nothing is more needful than the discovery of sin, and a conviction that we cannot be saved by our own righteousness. The way of sin and Satan is a crooked way; but to prepare a way for Christ, the paths must be made straight, Heb 12:13. Those whose business it is to call others to mourn for sin, and to mortify it, ought themselves to live a serious life, a life of self-denial, and contempt of the world. By giving others this example, John made way for Christ. Many came to John's baptism, but few kept to the profession they made. There may be many forward hearers, where there are few true believers. Curiosity, and love for novelty and variety, may bring many to attend on good preaching, and to be affected for a while, who never are subject to the power of it. Those who received John's doctrine, testified their repentance by confessing their sins. Those only are ready to receive Jesus Christ as their righteousness, who are brought with sorrow and shame to own their guilt. The benefits of the kingdom of heaven, now at hand, were thereupon sealed to them by baptism. John washed them with water, in token that God would cleanse them from all their iniquities, thereby intimating, that by nature and practice all were polluted, and could not be admitted among the people of God, unless washed from their sins in the fountain Christ was to open, Zec 13:1.Jerusalem - The people of Jerusalem.

All Judea - Many people from Judea. It does not mean that literally all the people went, but that great multitudes went. It was general. Jerusalem was in the part of the country called Judea. Judea was situated on the west side of the Jordan. See the notes at Matthew 2:22.

Region about Jordan - On the east and west side of the river. Near to Jordan.

5. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan—From the metropolitan center to the extremities of the Judean province the cry of this great preacher of repentance and herald of the approaching Messiah brought trooping penitents and eager expectants. The preacher being described, the evangelist proceedeth to tell us what auditors he had. The term all here twice repeated, is enough to let us know, that it is often in Scripture significative no further then many, for it cannot be imagined that every individual person in Jerusalem and the region about Jordan went to hear John the Baptist, but a great many did. It is not to be wondered that there went out such a concourse of people to hear John the Baptist,

1. If it be true, that from Ezra’s time till now no prophet had appeared. Our Saviour speaking of John, What went ye out for to see? A prophet? Seems to hint that a prophet was a great rarity amongst them.

2. If we consider the severity of his life. Our Saviour saith he came neither eating nor drinking, that is, as other men.

3. If we consider the new doctrine he brought, and his fervency in the pressing it: he came to preach the Messias, whom the Jews had long expected; to tell them his kingdom was at hand.

4. Especially if we consider the new rite of baptizing, which he brought in. For admit their washing of proselytes in use before, yet he baptized Jews. He was sent to baptize with water, John 1:33. So as from this time the institution of the sacrament of baptism must be dated, and he did baptize many.

Then went out to him Jerusalem,.... The uncommon appearance of this person, the oddness of his dress, the austerity of his life, together with the awfulness and importance of his doctrine, and the novelty of the ordinance of baptism he administered, and the Jews having had no prophet for some hundreds of years, and imagining he might be the Messiah, quickly drew large numbers of people to him. Some copies read "all Jerusalem": that is, the inhabitants of that city, a very large number of them; and "all Judea", a great number of people from all parts of that country. "All" is here put for "many". And

all the region round about Jordan; multitudes from thence, which seems to be the same country with that which is called "beyond Jordan", Matthew 4:25 and is distinguished from Judea as here. The Septuagint in 2 Chronicles 4:17 use the same phrase the Evangelist does here, and likewise in Genesis 13:10.

Then went out to him {g} Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan,

(g) The people of Jerusalem.

Matthew 3:5. Ἡ περίχωρος τοῦ Ἰορδάνου] כִּכַּר הַוַּרְדֵן, Genesis 13:10-11; 1 Kings 7:47; 2 Chronicles 4:17. The country on both sides of the Jordan, now Elgor, see Robinson, Pal. II. p. 498 ff. Comp. Lightfoot, Hor. p. 216. The whole passage conveys an impression of solemnity, with which also the naming of the town and district, instead of the inhabitants (Nägelsbach on the Iliad, p. 103 ff. ed. 3), is connected. The baptism of John has been erroneously regarded as a modified application of the Jewish baptism of proselytes. So Selden (Jus. nat. Matthew 2:2), Lightfoot (Hor. p. 220 ff.), Danz (in Meuschen, N. T. ex Talm. ill. pp. 233 ff., 287 ff.), Ziegler (theol. Abh. II. p. 132 ff.), Eisenlohr (hist. Bemerk. üb. d. Taufe, 1804), Kaiser (bibl. Theol. II. p. 160), Kuinoel, Fritzsche, Bengel, üb. d. Alter d. Jüd. Proselytent. 1814. For the baptism of proselytes, the oldest testimony to which occurs in the Gemara Babyl. Jebamoth xlvi. 2, and regarding which Philo, Josephus, and the more ancient Targumists are altogether silent, did not arise till after the destruction of Jerusalem. Schneckenburger, üb. d. Alter der Jüd. Proselytent. u. deren Zusammenst. m. d. joh. u. chr. Ritus, 1828; Paulus, exeg. Handb. I. p. 307 ff. The reception of proselytes was accomplished, so long as the temple stood, by means of circumcision and the presentation of a sacrifice, which was preceded, like every sacrifice, by a lustration, which the proselyte performed on himself. It is not, however, with this lustration merely, but chiefly with the religious usages of the Jews as regards washings, and their symbolical meaning (Genesis 35:2; Exodus 19:10; Numbers 19:7; Numbers 19:19; 1 Samuel 16:5; Jdt 12:7), that the baptism of John has its general point of connection in the history of the people, although it is precisely as baptism, and accompanied by the confession of sin, that it appears only as something new given to this dawn of the Messiah’s kingdom, under the excitement of the divine revelation, of which John was the bearer. Venerable prophetic pictures and allusions, like Isaiah 1:16; Isaiah 4:4; Isaiah 44:24, Ezekiel 36:25, Zechariah 13:1, Psalm 51:4, might thus serve to develope it still further in the soul of this last of the prophets. What was symbolized in the baptism of John was the μετάνοια. Comp. Josephus, Antt. xviii. 5. 2.[380] To this, however, the immersion of the whole of the baptized person, as the μετάνοια, was to purify the whole man, corresponded with profound significance, and to this the specifically Christian view of the symbolic immersion and emersion afterwards connected itself (Romans 6:3 ff.; Titus 3:5) by an ethical necessity.

ἘΞΟΜΟΛΟΓ.] In the same way as in the case of the sin-offering (Leviticus 16:21 ff.; Numbers 5:7), and in general to be taken as a venerable pre-condition of divine grace and blessing, Psalm 32:5; Psalm 51:1 ff.; Ezra 9:6; Daniel 9:5.

The participle is not to be taken as if it were conditional (Fritzsche: “si … confiterentur”), as the subjection to this condition, in the case of every one who came to be baptized, is necessarily required as a matter of course; but: they were baptized whilst they confessed, during the confession, which is conceived as connected with the act of baptism itself. Whether is it a summary or a specific confession which is intended? Both may have taken place, varying always according to the individuals and their relations. The compound, however (Josephus, Antt. viii. 4. 6; passages in Philo; see in Loesner), expresses, as also in Acts 19:18, Jam 5:16, an open confession.

[380] See this passage of Josephus above on ver. 2. Without any reason has this meaning been discovered in it, that John viewed his baptism as a means of covenant, by explaining βαπτισμῷ συνιέναι to mean: to unite through or for baptism (Strauss, Keim, Hausrath). The meaning of the passage is rather: John commanded the Jews to be wise in the exercise of virtue, and so on (sapere, comp. Romans 3:11; 2 Corinthians 10:12), by means of baptism.

Matthew 3:5-6. Effects of John’s preaching. Remarkable by his appearance, his message, and his moral intensity, John made a great impression. They took him for a prophet, and a prophet was a novelty in those days. His message appealed to the common Messianic hope, and proclaimed fulfilment to be at hand.—Τότε, then, general note of time, frequent in this Gospel. ἐξεπορεύετο imperfect, denoting continued action. The movement of course was gradual. It began on a small scale and steadily grew till it reached colossal dimensions. Each evangelist, in his own way, bears witness to this. Luke speaks of crowds (Matthew 3:7), Mark and Matthew give graphic particulars, similar, but in diverse order. “All Judaea and all the Jerusalemites,” says Mark. “Jerusalem, Judaea and the Jordan country,” Matthew. The historical order was probably the reverse of that in Matthew’s narrative. First came those from the surrounding country—people living near the Jordan, on either side, in what is now called El-Ghor. Then the movement extended in widening circles into Judaea. Finally it affected conservative, disdainful Jerusalem, slow to be touched by new popular influences.—Ἱεροσόλυμα: the Greek form here as in Matthew 2:3, and generally in this Gospel. It is not said all Jerusalem, as in Mark. The remarkable thing is that any came from that quarter. Standing first, and without the “all,” the reference means even Jerusalem. The πᾶσα in the other two clauses is of course an exaggeration. It implies, not that every human being went to the Jordan, but that the movement was general. The evangelist expresses himself just as we should do in a similar case. Πᾶς with the article means “the whole,” without, “every”.

Matthew 3:5. Πᾶσα, all) i.e., from all parts.

Verse 5. - Then. Not merely temporal, as probably in ver. 13, but almost consequential, "thereupon"; so also ver. 15; Matthew 2:7, 16. John's preaching and manner of life were not without effect. Went out; ἐξεπορεύετο (similar in the parallels). Our Lord, when referring to this (Matthew 11:7, 8, 9), uses the commoner ἐξήλθατε, merely indicating the crowds leaving for a while their present surroundings. The synoptists here point rather to the trouble involved and the distance traversed (cf. Mark 6:11 with 12). The singular is used (as often in the Hebrew) because the writer's first thought was of Jerusalem; the other parts were added as an afterthought. All (cf. Matthew 8:34); i.e. from all parts and in large numbers. Judaea. Strictly speaking, this would, of course, include part of the next expression, but the reference here is especially to the hill-country. And all the region round about Jordan; i.e. the inhabitants of the Ghor, the Jordan valley. They presumably came from either side of the river. "Strabo, concerning the plain bordering on Jordan, hath these words: It is a place of an hundred furlongs, all well watered, and full of dwellings" (John Lightfoot, 'Her. Heb.'). Matthew 3:5
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